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  1. Shear forces between cells occur during global changes in multicellular organization during morphogenesis and tissue growth, yet how cells sense shear forces and propagate a response across a tissue is unknown. We found that applying exogenous shear at the midline of an epithelium induced a local, short-term deformation near the shear plane, and a long-term collective oscillatory movement across the epithelium that spread from the shear-plane and gradually dampened. Inhibiting actomyosin contraction or E-cadherin trans-cell adhesion blocked oscillations, whereas stabilizing actin filaments prolonged oscillations. Combining these data with a model of epithelium mechanics supports a mechanism involving the generation of a shear-induced mechanical event at the shear plane which is then relayed across the epithelium by actomyosin contraction linked through E-cadherin. This causes an imbalance of forces in the epithelium, which is gradually dissipated through oscillatory cell movements and actin filament turnover to restore the force balance across the epithelium. 
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